{Thu, 1 February, 2007}   Supra-ridiculous & certain to be reconsidered at least thrice picks for ’07

As pitchers & catchers prepare their luggage… AL East, Blue Jays, barely (think a low win total, on the order of 90, a la the 87 win Yankees of 2000, & a tight finish, Sawkx & Yanks within three games or fewer)… This finish, at least at the top, has been a considered opinion for a few years, now, most notably in King Kaufman’s season previews at Salon. Why I am only seeing this happening, in ’07, is the advancing age of the top of the Yankee rotation (Pettitte, Mussina) & the likely regression of minor league products of recent vintage (cough, Melky, cough) — there was a reason he was on nobody’s radar to trade for, when the Yankees went into mid-season re-arming mode — coupled with a similar aging in Boston (Schilling, Lowell, Varitek) & the inconsistency of the youth (Beckett, (sad as it is for me to admit) Wily Mo). So, largely, the two-heads monster of the past decade has gotten soft, allowing a plugging Blue Jays side to skip to the front. Halladay & Burnett (healthy, so far, knock on wood) on which the rotation will turn, plus the offense of Overbay, Glaus, Wells… & the Zauner will propel that move;

AL Central, White Sox, in a return to pre-’06 form. The heartier rotation (Vazquez, Buehrle, Garland) will restore order, where the heavy-hitting Tigers had upended it. Detroit’s pitching remains much in the mode of Boston’s younger hurlers, though — Bonderman & Robertson, while very good & serviceable, remain as inconsistent as Beckett & Papelbon (ret’d to the rotation), & without as much offense (park-factors, heh) to help them recover. Further, expect the Twins to hit a wall, with only one plus starter healthy (Santana), & the smoke-&-mirrors offense of Shannon Stewart & Luis Castillo to finally dissipate (maybe 80 wins from that crew, more likely 72-75). & that prolly helps Cleveland to third, around .500, again;

AL West, Athletics (homefield in ALDS & ALCS, me thinks, with 97-99 wins)… This sad division is still the East Bay’s to lose. Even having incurred the gut-punch loss of Zito to the cross-waters rival, the pitching remains gelled (Harden, Haren, Blanton, Loaiza), while the offense is still young enough that you shouldn’t expect it to backslide enough to allow the Angels a pass to the pennant. In other news in this division, his last year in Seattle (?) & on the cusp of his MLB free-agency debut, Ichiro will hit at least .370, & should be pushing .400 as late as August.;

AL Wild-card, Red Sox. It pains me to think that. But, they just out-class Detroit, with Anaheim a notch or three below, & declining.

Athletics over Sawkx. Blue Jays over White Sox.

Blue Jays over Athletics. Another A’s swoon.  & Burnett for ALCS MVP. I’m serious.

NL East, Marlins (another tight east race; Mets within four or five… also, first Marlins division crown)… Last year was the Mets chance to stake the WS, & Jeff Suppan & Weaver got in between. (Who would have known?) That team is another year older, save for the glamour-boys Joe King & David Ortiz… I mean, Jose Reyes & David Wright. Don’t expect much gas. With ATL & DC behind, & the Phillies still trying to blend, though, expect the Mets to still win a fair number of games.;

NL Central, Brewers (in this punk-ass six-pack, I favour the hometown side, barely)… Still not the Cubs’s year. Phil Garner is bound to be exposed, shortly. St. Louis’s rotation has gotten weaker. (Again, who would have known?) Cincinnati remains more hit than pitch. Pittsburgh is sad. Have to go with my boys, by default. Rickie Weeks, MVP? Chris Capuano, Cy Young? Those two, with a division title in hand, could happen.;

NL West, Giants… Zito fronts Cain & Henessey, while the offense will eke out just enough to win. This is a division on par with the Central, though. Only altitude keeps Colorado from being Pirates West. Division winner with 85 victories?;

NL Wild-card, Mets.

Mets over Brewers. Marlins over Giants.

Marlins over Mets.

World Series, Marlins over Blue Jays, 4 & 3. Hanley for WS MVP. Dig it.


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